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Israeli flotilla inquiry asks Turkish captain to testify

An Israeli commission investigating the storming of a Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish activists were killed said on Monday it had invited the ship's captain to testify.

Israeli flotilla inquiry asks Turkish captain to testify
13 September 2010 - 21:14

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli commission investigating the storming of a Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish activists were killed said on Monday it had invited the ship's captain to testify.

Mahmut Tural, who was at the helm of the Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israeli marines on May 31, would be the first Turk to appear before the state-appointed inquest, whose limited mandate has raised hackles in Ankara.

A commission spokesman said Tural's testimony was requested in a September 12 letter to the Turkish embassy. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had yet to receive such a letter.

IHH, the Turkish Islamist charity that bought the Mavi Marmara to challenge Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, said Tural was a professional seaman and not one of its members.

Israel calls the IHH as a terrorist organisation for its ties to Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian group that controls Gaza and fought a war with the Jewish state in late 2008.

Israel said the marines opened fire aboard the Mavi Marmara after activists attacked them with clubs, knives and gunfire -- an account disputed by the IHH. The incident strained relations between Israel and its former Muslim ally Turkey.

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